Hi all…just wondering if it would be ok to use snow to cool the wort. We have plenty here in the Chicago area and was thinking about taking the brew pot outside and sitting in the snow. Between that and the temp, I am thinking that it would cool pretty quick. Any issues I may come across? Thanks.
I have done it but it still takes a fair amount of time, and you need to keep packing the snow against the pot…
The snow melts away from the pot and then it becomes an insulator. Constantly piling more snow against the pot is time consuming, there is a danger of splashing some in, etc.
Best use I’ve found for snow is to put some water in a stationary tub and pile the snow in to make a slushwater solution. Same principle as an ice bath but the last time I tried it, it seemed to work better than an ice bath.
I think it’s okay to do that. I think I did it once and it worked but I prefer a good, quick chill if I can get it. I think that if I wanted to use snow, I would also take my Starsan solution in a bucket out near the brewpot and put a long, stainless spoon in there and use it to stir the wort every once in awhile. That might speed it up. As it is, I still brew here (also in Chicago area) in the winter and just connect my hose, do the chilling, disconnect the hose, make sure it’s totally drained out and hang it back up for the next time.
I’ve done the snow thing and it worked pretty good. However, it was also 5 below zero so there’s that.
ha! i thought i was the only one wondering that
i tried it with my last batch of wort (i’m in maine, and we have snow to spare). i have a wood stove, and after a full day of a raging fire plus boiling wort, the kitchen was an inferno - i didn’t figure an ice bath would do much, so i stuck it outside. It did cool it down, but i was paranoid about floating particulates the entire time - not sure it was worth it. eventually i gave in to my paranoia, shoveled the sink full of snow, popped the pan in and did the slush thing - that worked faster than the ice bath
I had a friend try that a few years ago, told me it was a disaster. As mentioned below the snow just kind of melted away, then the heat created kind of a mini pocket of warm air around the pot. He tried just pushing snow up against the pot over and over and that helped, but not that much.
Took him like 50-65 minutes to get down to pitching temp and he had to stand outside next to it the whole time basically.
I will say the temp was in the mid 20’s so not exactly the coldest ever, but still he said it did not go well
I tried it as well, waaaayyy slower than ice bath for me for the same reason mentioned here… Snow melts away from pot surface and there goes the surface to surface contact. Air space insulates. No good. Snow/water/slush bath in the sink worked really well!
Two years in this obsession, and I still don’t have a wort chiller( I’m cheap, and copper is ridunculous).
So, my SOP is using a swamp cooler bucket with water and ice, or water plus snow when available. Works well for me. The key is to change the water as it warms up. I think the snow(plus subzero temps) works faster than water plus ice in summer. I can chill a 5G batch down to 60s in about 45 minutes. I duck tape the lid on to prevent contaminants.
Same experience here. Slush makes a good cooling media, snow not so good.
Sink ice bath has worked better than any snow/outdoor cooling I have tried.
Cooled outside in the snow at -20 below (SW Montana) and the freezing of the balls was in no way complimentary to the cooling time. In fact…it was brutal.
Sink+ice+slowly turn the kettle in the bath works the best outside of mechanical means…IMO.
water/snow mix (slush) has worked better than water/ice has for me.
Cooling with snow alone–no good.
I have yet to make a counterflow chiller so this is my SOP in the winter. I’m in Maine so we have plenty of snow as another poster stated.
I boil outside so the pot is already outdoors. I load the brewpot into my wheelbarrow, dump about 4 gallons of water into the wheelbarrow, then shovel in some snow.
Pot is covered the whole time so it is not going to get contaminated unless you splash the water/snow around enough to find its way under the cover.
I have found the trick is to do a stir or 2. I brewed yesterday and I was in the mid 70’s in about 30-40 mins. Not lightning fast but acceptable.
Dhermo: I am holding you personally responsible for my brewing catastrophe over the weekend. :lol: Everything went smoothly until I went to chill. I’m pretty sure my hose was clear (not frozen) but my outside spigot would not turn on… frozen shut. So I used a snowbank for about 45 minutes and then brought the BK inside, put it in the sink with more snow and waited another 45 minutes for it to get down below 70°. What a PITA! I’m brewing another batch one day this week and I’m going to have to try the OTHER outside spigot this time! Ugh.